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Mira Zakai (Contralto)

Born: Jerusalem, Israel

The Israeli contralto, Mira Zakai, is a graduate of the faculty of humanities and the Rubin Academy of Music of Tel aviv University.

Mira Zakai is known world-wide for her many appearances with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Israeli Opera, Berliner Philharmoniker (conducted by Claudio Abbado, Georg Solti, Yehudi Menuhin), New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf), the orchestras of Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Zürich, Vienna, Montreal, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Washington, under the batons of prominent conductors as Rafael Kubelík, Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Daniel Barenboim, Claudio Abbado, Bertini, Luciano Berio, Colin Davis, Eduardo Mata, Comissione, Christoph Eschenbach, Michel Corboz, Carlo Maria Giulini and many more.

Sir Yehudi Menuhin chose her to be the only soloist in a special concert for Pope John Paul II - an event which took place at Castel Gandolfo - to sing J.S. Bach's aria "Have mercy oh God" [Erbarme dich mein Gott] with him playing the violin obligato part.this concert was telecast world-wide. An acclaimed recitalist - Zakai performed in the leading European and American cities as well as in her own country. Her Lieder Recitals took her to New york [Alice Tully Hall] to Paris to Amsterdam to Berlin, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Moskva, St. Peterburg, Bruxells, Antwerpen, Montreal, Glasgow, where she also made her international opera debut with Scottish Opera altrnating performances with Dame Janet Baker as Orfeo in Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice. Her diverse repertoire encompasses roles ranging from Prince Orlovsky to Ulrica and Erda.

Professor Mira Zakai teaches voice and Lied & Oratoria repertoire at the Rubin Academy of Music,Tel Aviv University. For her special contribution to Israeli music she received the Composers and Playwrights association award [ACUM]. In 1990 Zakai won the Arts and Culture Council prize for best performance of Israeli compositions. In honour of Israel's 50th anniversary she received a special award for her dedication, contribution, inspiration and performance of Israeli contemporary music from the minister of culture and education.

Mira Zakai's many recordings include Gustav Mahler's Resurrection Symphony with Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Georg Solti [which won a "Grammy" award]. Boris Gudonov and War and Peace with Rostropovitz. Moses and Ahron with Georg Solti and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Midnight Vigil [M. Seter] with Bertini and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as well as many solo recitals - Israeli Songs, Ladino songs, a collection of songs by poets who perished in the Holocoust - composed by Norbert Glansberg,the famous chansoniere [for Beth Hatfutsot]. A recital of songs by Schumann Ravel Arthur Honegger Werfel Sevenent [ed. R Gaii - Belgium]. For Koch International. She recorded a recital of G. Mahler, Anton Webern, Alban Berg songs with the pianist Jonathan Zak - joined for Ravelsí Chancones Madecasses and George Frideric Handelís Mi Palpita il Core -- by M. Haran, A. Biron and Shalev Ad-El.

From the Press

Regarding her performance of Handel solo cantata, 'La Lucrezia' in concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
"Miss Zakai's delivery of this challenging dramatic work was outstanding. The recitatives, arias, ariosos and so on that make up the cantata cover a broad range of vocal and expressive demands, and the soloist was equal to all of them. She performed the cantata from memory -a notable accomplishment in itself -and her concentration never waned during the more than 20 minutes of constant singing involved. She moved easily from high-intensity declamation to fluent coloratura and from the rage of a wronged woman to the pathos of one whose death is at hand. Miss Zakai is billed as a contralto, but the timbre of her voice and its range are more nearly that of a mezzo-soprano. In any case, she used it to splendid effect on this occasion."
Allen Hughes in New York Times (February 8, 1986)

Source: Home Page of Mira Zakai; Programme notes to a concert of the IPO (May 1976)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (April 2002); Teddy Kaufman (October 2006)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Jerzy Maksymiuk


Aria from BWV 244 [video, w/ violinist Yehudi Menuhin]

Links to other Sites

The Home Page of Mira Zakai


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